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Rogers Centre to have traditional dirt infield in 2016

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Rogers Centre will have a different look this season, as the Blue Jays announced on Wednesday that they are installing a traditional dirt infield for the 2016 campaign.

Work is scheduled to begin on Monday, and the field will be ready for the start of the regular season in April. The process involves excavation of the cement floor at Rogers Centre and then layering the affected areas with gravel, sand and clay.

TORONTO -- Rogers Centre will have a different look this season, as the Blue Jays announced on Wednesday that they are installing a traditional dirt infield for the 2016 campaign.

Work is scheduled to begin on Monday, and the field will be ready for the start of the regular season in April. The process involves excavation of the cement floor at Rogers Centre and then layering the affected areas with gravel, sand and clay.

The Blue Jays have long considered the possibility of having a dirt infield with the hope of a more aesthetically pleasing look and -- if properly installed and maintained -- a surface that's easier on the bodies of the players. It seems they have their wish, even if the goal for an all-natural grass field isn't quite there yet.

The surface of the inner "grass" portion of the infield will remain artificial.

"We are very excited to proceed with this project," Blue Jays senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks said in a statement. "This will both improve the surface for the players and also enhance the atmosphere of the stadium for our fans."

Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field is the only other facility that uses artificial turf in the Majors. According to some players, the Rays' infield surface has a tendency to harden and become very firm. The Blue Jays will have to monitor the conditions, but this could be good news for the future of Toronto's infielders.

Troy Tulowitzki is signed through at least 2020, Josh Donaldson has three years of control remaining and the combination of Devon Travis and Ryan Goins at second base is only getting started. The infield is a big part of Toronto's core, and any potential advantage in maintaining health will be key.

According to the Blue Jays, the excavation will occur in the affected basepath and infield areas to a depth of 30.48 cm/12 inches and will impact an area of approximately 1,115 square metres/12,000 square feet. Layers of gravel, sand and clay will then be placed in the excavated areas to ensure "proper moisture content and conditions suitable to a Major League playing surface."

Toronto also announced the work will not interfere with some upcoming events at Rogers Centre, which includes Supercross (March 12) and Disney on Ice (March 17-20). The Blue Jays are scheduled to open their home schedule on April 8 against the Red Sox.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays